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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions August 28, 2016

5/20/2014 11:07:00 AM
Letter to the editor: Disability must be addressed on Hopi

To the editor:

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 6,836 people live on the Hopi Reservation. Of those over the age of five, 21 percent report having a disability and more than 60 percent of Hopi people between the ages of 16 and 64 with disabilities are unemployed. In general, other statistic show that 9.8 percent of Native Americans have a severe disability that includes various types of developmental disabilities (DD). Also, Native Americans with disabilities have the highest incident of needing assistance with activities of daily living.

On the Hopi Reservation mental health issues and psychiatric illnesses are more likely to occur in people with DD than in the general population.

The high rate of DD on Hopi can be attributed to a number of factors including:

• abandonment by loved ones, abuse, bullying and harassment;

• the social and developmental restrictions placed on people with DD, lack of education, poverty, limited employment, limited opportunities for fulfilling relationships and boredom;

• biological factors such as brain injuries, epilepsy, and illicit and prescribed drugs and alcohol abuse;

• developmental factors such as lack of understanding of social norms, inappropriate behaviors, and inability of those around to allow understanding of expression of grief and other human emotions.

In the U. S. approximately 60 to 80 percent of women receiving psychiatric services have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. More than half of people with disabilities are generally perpetrated by family members or peers with disabilities. Disability professionals, paid or unpaid care givers, doctors and nurses, are believed to be responsible for the other half. It is estimated that approximately 67 percent of perpetrators who abuse individuals with severe cognitive disabilities access them through their work and services.

In view of the vulnerability of persons with DD, the Native American Disability Law Center is providing technical assistance to the Hopi Office of Special Needs, the Hopi Disability Advocacy Group, and other Hopi organizations in the development of a Hopi Vulnerable Adult Protection Ordinance, for eventual passage by the Hopi Tribal Council. The intent of this proposed ordinance is to provide legal protection against the potential abuse, neglect, abandonment, and exploitation of Hopis with disabilities.

The Law Center is a non-profit organization with offices in Farmington and Gallup, New Mexico, in providing free legal, educational, and referral services to Native Americans with disabilities in the Four Corners area including outreach to the Hopi Tribe.

Hoskie Benally, Jr.

Community\Government Liaison

The Native American Disability

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Article comment by: Kee Jackson

Navajo politicians are offer promises we know they will not keep. Take a look around and see the harsh living conditions and watch leaders work with the platforms that helped get them elected. It will not take a year when those elected are in some sort of controversy. From misrepresentation of various funding, to the abuse of authority in mostly all areas of the tribal government. Obsessive politicians will do everything in their power to work against the people. With these sort problems, it is plainly hypocrisy when the Navajo Nation stand in opposition when the sacred mountains are in a battle over man made snow or when we have the tribe refusing to acknowledge what really is happening behind closed doors where victims are left ignored from a line of emotional, physical and even mental abuse. When such matters rise, drugs and alcohol, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence to drunk driving increase and that is why we the people clearly understand that elections really are not for the people. We need strong laws to protect the people, We need a leader who will truly stand up for the people unfortunately continuously oppressed. Let us elect a person that will stand up for peoples rights at the tribal level, this sort of work ethics should already be eradicated by now. -Arlington TX.

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